This article discusses some cases, reflective of the educational approach of many religious schools and individuals, that are symptomatic of serious problems in the way our community transmits Torah teachings. The fundamentalist, literalist position—so vehemently criticized by Rambam—still holds sway among many Orthodox Jews.
The term Orthodox is misleading because it hints at a uniform standard of religious conduct that, in reality, does not exist. When used to enforce exclusivity—the holier-than-thou phenomenon—it can become haughty, condescending, downright mean: ‘I am more Jewish than you.’
The United States of America is a constitutional republic, with a system of governance designed to prevent tyranny of government or the majority. The principles of good governance are rooted in the oral and written laws and traditions of the Torah, embodied in the Bible, Mishna, and Talmud, as elucidated and interpreted by rabbinic commentaries.
One may come to an understanding of God both through the natural world and through the Torah. For the Jewish People, Abraham is our father (Avraham Avinu) and Moses is our teacher (Moshe Rabbeinu)…and both lead us to God.
Dr. Isabelle Levy's recently published book presents a comparison of fictional writings across literary traditions of the medieval Mediterranean. It places secular texts by Jewish authors side by side with works by their Muslim and Jewish predecessors and Christian contemporaries.
Rabbi Hayyim Angel reviews Dennis Prager's commentary on Deuteronomy.
The quality of spirituality—the tselem Elo-him within us-- is God’s gift to us; how we use or abuse this gift defines who we are as human beings.
How can an Orthodox Jew in today's world maintain faith in Torah in the face of the apparent challenges of natural science to that faith? Dr. Menachem Kellner examines Maimonides' approach to the issue and then proposes his own approach, one which relies upon reverting to what he understands as classic Jewish definitions of faith.
It is intrinsic to human nature to strive to emulate God, and everything that creates a distinction from God makes us feel uncomfortable. Therefore, seeing Judaism as merely a set of commandments creates a negative view of the human soul. The commandments are necessary, but only after a person moves freely in the direction of ideals. Self-restraint must stem from freedom, and not the other way around.
We should work toward a society that repudiates hateful words and deeds, where the haters themselves will come to see the error of their way. Those whose words are hateful generate darkness, mistrust, societal disintegration.
Those whose words bring light to the world are humanity’s only real hope.